Mini bell peppers stuffed with spices, green onion, and cream cheese then topped with sharp cheddar and baked to perfection. This is the perfect appetizer for tailgating, parties, or just an afternoon snack!
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When it comes to crowding around the TV to watch the week's football games, I always want to prepare something that is easy to make ahead of time so I can enjoy the party and not miss any of the action.
These cream cheese stuffed peppers pair perfectly with my mango habanero salsa and healthy buffalo chicken dip for a totally fuss-free gathering.
📖Why This Recipe Works
While I chose to bake this recipe, these cream cheese stuffed sweet peppers can also be served chilled.
These lightly spiced peppers have southwest flavor thanks to chili powder and cumin but aren't spicy like traditional jalapeno poppers. Simply put, they are sweet, savory, and very cheesy.
This recipe is gluten-free and vegetarian.
For this recipe, you want to skip the jalapeno peppers in favor of sweet mini peppers. Most grocery stores carry them, and they are typically already bagged in quantities ranging from 12 ounces to 24 ounces.
Cream Cheese -For the cream cheese filling, we are using traditional cream cheese, although you can use reduced-fat cream cheese or Neufchatel cream cheese, along with shredded cheese.
If you follow a GF diet and are concerned about the filling check out my analysis Is Philadelphia cream cheese gluten-free?
Shredded- Cheese- I prefer to use sharp white cheddar but you could also use pepper jack cheese or Monterrey jack cheese. I don't recommend shredded mozzarella cheese in this recipe as it tends to get lost with all the other seasonings.
Green Onions- Scallions add a bit of crunch to the filling. You can substitute a small amount of finely diced red onion or shallot.
Seasonings- A splash of lemon juice for acid and brightness, smokey chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, and a pinch of red pepper flakes round things out.
See the recipe card for exact quantities.
⏲️How to Make Stuffed Mini Peppers
Hands-on prep time is relatively short. Just be sure to soften your cream cheese by leaving it out at room temperature for at least an hour. Cold cream cheese is very hard to work with.
Step 1-Cut and Deseed
In general, mini peppers will not have many seeds, if any. Cut in half lengthwise and then use a spoon to hollow them out if needed.
These peppers are not spicy so need to wear gloves when deveining and removing the seeds.
Step 2- Make the Filling
To make the filling combine all the spices, green onion, lemon juice, and half of the shredded cheddar cheese in a large bowl. Use a spatula to combine.
I find it a tad bit easier to break up the cream cheese with a fork, and then once it starts to come together I stir in the green onions.
Use a spoon to stuff the peppers with the cream cheese mixture.
My best tip for this is to overfill and then use the back of the spoon to push the filling into all the nooks and crannies. Then use the side of the spoon to scrape the top flat.
Place the peppers on a large-rimmed baking sheet. I prefer to line mine with parchment paper or aluminum foil for easy cleanup.
Before baking top each of the pepper halves with a little of the shredded cheese.
Step 4- Bake
The peppers will need to bake for 15 to 20 minutes at 350 F degrees. When the cheese has begun to brown the peppers are soft, they are ready. Keep a close eye they can be easily overcooked.
Let the peppers rest for 5 minutes before
🥗What to Serve with Baked Mini Peppers
While these peppers are great on their own, if you wanted to serve them with a sauce try my avocado crema or pineapple relish.
More Easy Appetizer Recipes
👩🏻🍳 Expert Tip
Adding ground meat, like Italian sausage or ground turkey, made these cream cheese stuffed peppers too soggy. If you want to add meat try crispy bacon bits instead.
💭 Cold Variation
Who doesn't love a delicious appetizer recipe that can be made entirely ahead of time?
To make cold cream cheese stuffed peppers follow the directions with the exception of adding all the shredded cheese to the cream cheese filling
When filling each pepper half, spoon it up so it is a little domed on top. Sprinkle on the fresh parsley and serve.
Alternatively, if you want to serve a whole pepper instead of pepper halves you can cut off the top of the pepper, i.e., the stem, and scoop out any seeds. Use a piping bag without a tip to fill.
Leftover peppers should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Reheat in the oven for best results.
💬Frequently Asked Questions
No, mini peppers are too small to be precooked before stuffing. Unlike a larger bell pepper which needs to be roasted before filling.
Yes, when serving cold the peppers can be assembled up to 24 hours in advance. Top with parsley just before serving.
When serving warm, assemble the peppers without the cheese topping up to 24 hours in advance and place them on a baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and store in the fridge. Set out at room temperature for 30 minutes and top with the extra cheese before baking.
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Cream Cheese Stuffed Peppers
- 1 pound mini-sweet peppers
- 8 ounces cream cheese softened
- 8 ounces shredded white cheddar cheese divided
- 4 green onions thinly sliced
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes optional
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- fresh parsley for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 350 F degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Slice the bell peppers lengthways and remove the seeds. Do not remove the stems or cut off the tops or bottoms.1 pound mini-sweet peppers
- In a small bowl, mix together the softened cream cheese, 4 ounces of the shredded cheddar, green onions, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, lemon juice, salt, and red pepper flakes.8 ounces cream cheese, 8 ounces shredded white cheddar cheese, 4 green onions, 2 teaspoons chili powder, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon cumin, ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- Spoon the filling into the peppers. Arrange in a single layer on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.8 ounces shredded white cheddar cheese
- Bake for 20 minutes or until the cheese has browned. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve warm.fresh parsley
- To make in advance stuff peppers and top with cheese. Cover with plastic wrap. Sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking.
- To make cold cream cheese stuffed peppers follow the directions with the exception of adding all the shredded cheese to the cream cheese filling. When filling each pepper half, spoon it up so it is a little domed on top. Sprinkle on the fresh parsley and serve.
- If you skip the crushed red pepper add a ¼ teaspoon of ground black pepper.
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